Lautaro Martinez extends Argentina’s unbeaten run


Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 29 games on Tuesday when they beat a toothless Colombia 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier.

Lautaro Martinez got the only goal of an untidy game after 29 minutes when he took advantage of slack defending to rifle home from inside the penalty area.

The top four teams in the South American section qualify automatically for Qatar and the fifth-placed side goes into a playoff with a team from the Asian confederation.

Brazil and Argentina have already qualified and Ecuador’s 24 points mean they are almost certain to join them.

The result leaves Colombia in seventh place in the 10-team table with 17 points, five points behind Uruguay, two behind Chile, and three behind Peru, who could strengthen their position further with a win over Ecuador later on Tuesday.

The match brought together a home side that had not lost a goal in their last four home matches and a Colombian team that had not scored in their last six qualifiers.

Both runs were extended in a game that Argentina controlled without ever looking like they were in top gear.

The home side were without Lionel Messi, who was rested after a recent bout with COVID-19, but Martinez and Angel Di Maria assumed the attacking mantle.

Di Maria was a threat throughout with his long-range shooting, and caused problems for Colombia’s second-string keeper Camilo Vargas.

Colombia’s best chance came in first-half stoppage time when Luis Diaz had a shot kicked off the line.

Brazil 4 Paraguay 0

Brazil scored twice in the last four minutes, the second a first international goal from Real Madrid striker Rodrygo, to cap a comfortable 4-0 win over Paraguay in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte.

The defeat ended Paraguay’s hopes of qualifying for Qatar and further cemented Brazil’s position as one of the favourites to lift the trophy in December.

Brazil top the South American qualifying group with no defeats in 15 games and the win extended to 61 matches their unbeaten home record in World Cup qualifiers.

Paraguay, who have yet to win any of their first five games under coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, are second bottom of the 10-team group with 13 points from 16 games.

It was a successful but frustrating night for Raphinha, who scored one, had another chalked off, and also hit the post.

The Leeds United winger thought he had put Brazil 1-0 up after just 93 seconds only to see the goal ruled out after a lengthy consultation with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

However, with 28 minutes gone he superbly controlled a long ball from Marquinhos and wriggled between two defenders to put Brazil 1-0 ahead.

He was unlucky not to get another early in the second half but saw his volley come back off the post.

Philippe Coutinho got a deserved second for the home side just after the hour when he placed a sumptuous shot into the top corner of the net from 30 meters out.

Antony made the scoreline more reflective of the play with four minutes left when he curled a left-foot shot past a helpless keeper.

And Rodrygo tapped home a minute later to round off a commanding performance from the five-times world champions.

Vinicius Jnr, Matheus Cunha, and Lucas Paqueta also came close for Brazil, who, with qualification already guaranteed, fielded a much-changed side.

Talismanic striker Neymar was out injured and there were rare starts for goalkeeper Ederson, midfielder Fabinho, left-back Alex Telles and captain on the night Dani Alves.

New Newcastle signing Bruno Guimaraes made a substitute appearance in the second half.

 Uruguay thrash Venezuela

Uruguay leapfrogged Peru and Chile into fourth position after seeing off Venezuela with a comfortable victory in their World Cup qualifier.

New Tottenham midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur – signed from Juventus late on in the January transfer window – got the hosts off to a flying start with a superb effort from range.

Diego Alonso’s side doubled their advantage just over 20 minutes later as Giorgian De Arrascaera tapped home from a square ball provided by Facuno Pellistri.

Edinson Cavani rubbed salt in Venezuelan wounds just before the break after executing a bicycle kick finish into an empty net to score Uruguay’s third, and strike partner Luis Suarez added a fourth after halftime.


Courtesy: Reuters and Daily Mail UK


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